SchH Dominance GSD or Belgian Malinois? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 100 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 10:29 AM Thread Starter
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SchH Dominance GSD or Belgian Malinois?

On a somewhat pointless thread about Godzilla GSDs, we went off on a tangent about RSV2000. Mrs. K, with her front row seat in the motherland, made the observation below.

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Originally Posted by Mrs.K View Post
The Open German Championships were held last week. It wasn't all that great and I guess they know where they stand now. First nine ranks went to malinois and one German Shepherd ranked place 10 ... especially since the RSV2000 stirred up such a riot about competence and stuff like that a lot of people expected much much more.

Here is the link from the RSV2000 Member Bulletin for the trial results;
ADRK Bezirksgruppe Rottweil-Sd - Competers VDH

Interestesting to note not only the point about Belgian Malinois and that the 10th place was Dr. Helmut Raiser and his RSV2000 GSD....but also the highest placing SV GSD was 19th!

Allow me to offer some perspective on my view. I am a dog lover. I can find something to appreciate about any breed or line. Having said that, I am a GSD person to the bone, and more specifically, Working Lines, West German, DDR, or Czech are my preference. A facet of my passion for the GSD is the working heritage of the breed in Herding and the tradition Schutzhund has played in shaping the working dog.

I appreciate Belgian Malinois, but I have never owned one. I have caught SchH, SDA, KNPV, and French Ring Malinois, but never handled one. I have admired the mechanics of the Mal’s work, but never trained one.

I have been around SchH long enough to read the history and talk to more experienced trainers who discuss the evolution of SchH from breed test to competitive sport. I have also spent enough time around breeders and the discussion boards to be aware of the divergence in GSD lines.

So let me pose the following for discussion;

Is the apparent dominance of Belgian Malinois in dog sport, due to changes in SchH itself, evolving from a breed test to validate the all-round character of GSDs, to a precision based sport?, or could it be attributed to insufficiencies in the GSD, associated with the divergent lines?, could the Mals simply be a superior breed?


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post #2 of 100 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 11:07 AM
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The exact same discussion was going on, on a german forum.

I believe there is a lot that plays into the fact that German Shepherds stand behind Malinois.

Many Schutzhund people in Germany still train their dogs the old way which just isn't what the judges want to see anymore.

I was told that malinois are not only rough and tough but also handler sensitive and that you have to train them a total different way and re-think methods. They wouldn't learn any faster, weren't any easier but because of their sensitivity you can't just train them "the old way" and have to use a lot of positive reinforcement which is still a big no-go in a lot of German Shepherd Clubs over here. Some people flat out laugh at you if you pull out the clicker which is stupid but thats the way it is..

If you own a sensitive German Shepherd you've got a weak dog. A real shepherd is only a dog that nips at his handler, he's got to be rough and tough and you have to able to stomp a shovel on his head and he's still going straight forward.

Unless people start to re-think their training methods, the club structures, stop corruption and judges that give points to dogs and handlers that don't deserve it, there will be no change within the Shepherd Szene and they will fall more and more behind the Malinois.
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post #3 of 100 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 11:38 AM
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A dog that can score high is not necessarily the same as a strong dog with heart and courage. Just my opinion ... so I'm inclined to with your first hypothesis, Wayne.

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A real shepherd is only a dog that nips at his handler, he's got to be rough and tough and you have to able to stomp a shovel on his head and he's still going straight forward.
I can do without the nipping but, yes, a GSD that is rough and tough and can take a whack of a shovel to his head and keep going straight forward ...I'll take him! It doesn't mean you can't clicker train that dog - but at some point in his training life you are going to have to put a some pressure on the dog and I want a dog that can power through it.

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post #4 of 100 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 12:26 PM
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Jason, that is the point. Most of these people don't believe in clicker-training or positive re-inforcement.

When I look at this forum and the other german board I believe that in the US people are way ahead of us Germans because over here they try to stick to the tradition and don't go with the time.

I agree, having a rough and tough dog doesn't mean you can clicker train him and sometimes you have to use pressure. There is always a point where you have to be consequent and use pressure but you have to know when, how and what kind of pressure.
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post #5 of 100 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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One of the aspects I value about a GSD is the characteristic of being an "all-around" dog. You know the old saying, "not the best and anything, but second best at everything".

Although I have had the crap knocked out of me by Mals while serving as a Helper/Decoy, I do not believe this translates to any depth of understanding about the breed, but having said that, my impression is that they are not the "all-around" dog the GSD is. When off the field, the Mals I have been around are wired, cagey, almost anxious.

Am I off base here?


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post #6 of 100 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 02:05 PM
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I think that it's about Flash in the work. And I think you can generally agree that a higher strung dog is flashier in a routine. Most of the Mals I have seen have more nervous energy (and not necessarily to say that they are nervous/anxious, but rather that they always seem to be in that state of heightened alert with the adrenaline flowing) and that energy when channeled gives a very flashy performance. And Mals also seem to be more reactive with faster reflexes. Face it...most GSDs look slow next to the Mals.

In an effort to compete with this, I think you are seeing more GSDs with Malinois like characteristics. More energy, more drive, so that in training you can get more Flash. They also seem to be more handler soft. I always think of these dogs as "The Modern Working Shepherd". But of course with this there are drawbacks. Like Ms. K said...these dogs do not hold up to the older style of training. You cannot beat these dogs up without ruining them. I think your traditionalists would consider them weak. Although I think part of the success of these dogs is also because they are easier in some ways for new people from other dog backgrounds to feel successful with. Most people in the US do not have the stomach for the older style of training (where you see the more traditional tough as nails working shepherd succeeding perhaps in spite of the heavy handedness). Their dogs are their pets. They don't want to see them yelp, or cry, or feel sad in training. If all the behaviors can be reliably shaped with clickers and treats they're happier.

I find it interesting when you look at judges- what certain ones like, don;t like etc. Old German judges that I've seen like a different kind of dog than a newer American judge. I can think of one judge who will sort of gloss over temperament as long as the obedience is there because he'd rather see a tough aggressive dog than a pet who loves everyone. Another judge I can think of will pass a BH with moderate obedience as long as the dog shows good temperament in a fairly extensive traffic portion. I think that reflects values on the dogs.

You see it in horses too. How many people go to the races and bet on the horse that's dancing all over the place because it looks fast, or the show jumpers or dressage horses that look on the edge of control. I think there is something in human nature that applauds the human race "mastering" and channeling something that appears wild.

I think these trials are less trials and more performances. Who doesn't want to be entertained?

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post #7 of 100 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 02:45 PM
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IMO - the tests in schutzhund have changed the sport andd the relevance as assessing breedability. Now the emphasis may be on GSD to be more "sporty" and the points aren't as much based on power and temperament of the dog. This made room for the Malinois to take the lead with its "correctness". I may see all the correct obeidence in a Mali, but the total power and correct temperament for an all-purpose working dog will always be the GSD. SchH still needs to be a part of the selection process, but who the dog truly is - seeing it be trainined and worked is needed for a wise selection for breeding. Judging has changed to on so many ways and training also has evolved. But to my core I am a GSD gal and not a mali gal.

Funny to mention about the "old style " training and how this part of the world may be more evolved. Last winter I went to a seminar given by a very succeesful traininer in SchH - he laments that there are no good old-school German traininers here any more. He can't stand clicker training. However after watching him work a few dogs in OB, he is using marker training but just not calling it that!

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post #8 of 100 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 02:51 PM
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While I was typing this a couple of posts came up saying something similar but I am too lazy to edit.

They are two distinctly different breeds but the problem is now, working GSD people want GSDs to act like that different breed. It would be better if they just got a Mal. I know a number of people who have switched from GSDs to Mals. The Mals fit them better and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I appreciate they switched, instead of trying to make the GSD into something he /she is not supposed to be. People need to get used to/understand seeing what a GSD is supposed to work like. Huge numbers of people can watch SchH protection or obedience and simply miss the forest while they are watching the tree. I think the big attraction to Mals started in the obedience portion of SchH. Mals are simply flashier/quicker dogs due to the design of their nervous system. GSDs were never intended to be like Mals in that regard and when you have people trying to breed that into the GSD, what you get are those dogs who nip at their handlers. It doesn't quite work out for German Shepherds when you try to breed in that nervous energy . The GSD was intended to be balanced, not frantic and so prey driven they will run off a cliff to get a tug etc.

The way Mals hit in protection is also associated with the nerves, in some of them. I have worked a few who were more GSD- like but there is still that somewhat frantic desire in those dogs to get to the sleeve. It is not at all like what a good GSD does. The best GSD will sort of size up the helper as they come to the bite and they make adjustments accordingly. They will escalate based on the level of threat. Mostly, the Mals all seem to come at the same speed and are more often than not, simply flinging themselves at the helper. They are more on full blast vs escalating to the threat.
I have seen more than a few who have flown off the sleeve on the long bite. Makes for spectacular video and most will say that happens because the dog is coming so fast. Well, yes, part of that is true but the other part, IMO, has to do with their nerves and that frantic behavior. I talked about a Mal I worked a while back who had flown off the sleeve a few times in trials. We put him on the pole and I worked him with some pressure coming at him yelling and moving the whip. What became immediately apparent was the dog's lack of focus. The dog was attracted by everything that was moving on my body. You can attribute that to the very high prey instinct but also a bit to the nerves because focus requires stronger nerves. This dog was distracted by all the movement, that is nerves. I made some adjustments and it wasn't long before the dog focused strictly on the sleeve but it needed to be taught to the dog, it was not natural. That kind of work is something I think lots of Mals would benefit from but IMO, is not work that is as necessary , ( even though I will do it with GSDs), when you train a GSD. That is because of the differences in the two breeds. Although there will always be the excuse meisters in both breeds, most of the Mal people I know seem to be much more willing to admit who their breed is vs GSD people who are always making excuses. They are just dogs and you have to be able to accept who each dog is in order to work it right. That part alone could be a big reason they do better in trials, their trainers understand what is at the end of the leash. When you understand that part and have the training knowledge to go along with it, it is very easy to teach these dogs to do things the right way. They are very fast learners and easy to reach so, it is easier to install behaviors.

GSDs should not be so quick to react as Mals are. They are a thinking breed so, when you have a "real" GSD, you and your helper have to possess a different skill set. Mostly, it was always a case where GSDs needed a reason to bite. They would size things up before they acted. This type of dog required a helper who could give the dog that reason but when the training started to become all about prey drive, half of who the GSD was supposed to be,( the protective instincts/aggression), started to lose value to many people who were training them. They wanted the ease of working with the more easy to stimulate dogs like Mals and the prey drive that matched the methods. IMO, a big reason the GSD is suffering is because people want them to be Mals and the Mals are excelling because the people who train those dogs, like the traits that breed displays and are not out there wishing for something else or trying to work them in ways that don't fit who the dog is.


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post #9 of 100 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 03:03 PM
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Did you guys know that Raiser even thought of crossing Mals with GSD's to better the German Shepherd and that it was a huge debate and that it was one of the reasons why he split from the SV in the first place?
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post #10 of 100 (permalink) Old 08-08-2010, 05:20 PM
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I remember reading what he wrote and he talked about bringing in Mals for health reasons. Not to make the GSD more like a Mal.

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